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Tips for Top Tests. FOSL fall September 10, 2007 Adapted from “Tools for Teaching” by Barbara Gross Davis. General Strategies. It is important for a test to be balanced : to cover most of the main ideas and important concepts in proportion to the emphasis they received in class.

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tips for top tests

Tips for Top Tests

FOSL fall

September 10, 2007

Adapted from “Tools for Teaching”

by Barbara Gross Davis

general strategies
General Strategies
  • It is important for a test to be balanced: to cover most of the main ideas and important concepts in proportion to the emphasis they received in class.
  • Use a variety of testing methods. Write questions that test skills other than recall.
construction of effective exams
Construction of EffectiveExams
  • Prepare new exams each time you teach a course.
  • Create test items throughout the term.
  • Ask students to submit test questions.
  • Consider making your tests cumulative.
  • Include a few words of advice or encouragement on the exam.
  • Put some easy items first.
  • Try out the timing.
allaying students anxieties about tests
Allaying Students’ Anxieties About Tests
  • Give students advice on how to prepare for the exam.
  • Give a diagnostic test early in the term.
  • Duplicate extra copies of the exam.
  • Plan for “what ifs.”
  • Actively proctor.
  • Return test papers promptly.
  • Use class time to discuss the overall results and provide answer key.
  • Makeup Test Tips
multiple choice tests
Multiple-Choice Tests
  • Make sure that at least some test items require higher-level learning (examples)
  • Instruct students to select the “best answer” rather than the “correct answer.”
  • Give advice on how to take a multiple-choice or matching test. Can students guess?
  • Put all relevant material in the stem and keep it short and grammatically consistent (examples)
more on multiple choice
More on Multiple-Choice
  • Limit number of response alternatives and keep distracters appealing and plausible.
  • Avoid always, never, all of the above, none of the above and negative wording.
  • Vary the position of the best answer.
  • Evaluate the test items after you have scored them.
matching test items
Matching Test Items
  • Keep the two sets of items homogeneous.
  • Try to order the responses.
  • If you include distracters, let students know that some of the entries do not apply.
  • Be conscious of layout and format. Avoid flipping pages to find answers!
short answer and essay tests
Short-Answer and Essay Tests
  • Do not use essay questions to evaluate understanding that could be tested with multiple-choice questions (examples)
  • Give students advice on how to approach an essay test.
  • Don’t give students a choice of questions to answer.
  • Ask students to write more than one essay.
  • State the question clearly and precisely (examples)
more on short answer and essay tests
More on Short-Answer and Essay Tests
  • Decide on guidelines for full and partial credit (examples)
  • Read exams without looking at students’ names or grading on extraneous factors.
  • Choose examples of exams to serve as anchors or standards.
  • Write comments on the exams.
  • Place the grade on the last page of the exam.
preventing academic dishonesty
Preventing Academic Dishonesty
  • If you suspect students of cheating or plagiarizing material, confront them directly and immediately.
  • Make certain that you (or proctors) are in the room at all times. Honor system?
  • Check student photo IDs?
  • Take action with “wandering eyes.”
  • Spend some time in the back of the room.
more on preventing academic dishonesty
More on Preventing Academic Dishonesty
  • Be aware of “blue book tricks.”
  • Clearly mark incorrect answers.
  • Distinguish between fraudulent, legitimate, and unacceptable excuses.
  • Recognize that the excuse “my grandmother died” is more likely to be valid than fraudulent.